Game Ninety-Eight: Cubs (52-45) vs. Astros (50-49)
Game Time – 7:05pm C.T.
Coverage – TV: WGN TV – Radio: 720 WGN, XM Radio Channel 186
Location – Wrigley Field, Chicago
Ryan Dempster (5-5, 4.09/1.37) vs. Roy Oswalt (6-4, 3.66/1.17)
Updated – 3:53pm C.T. - Justin Berg Optioned to Triple-A Iowa to make room on the active roster for Ryan Dempster
With Monday night’s dramatic 13th inning win, the Cubs enter play tonight once again a half game ahead of the Cardinals in the Central Division … with the Astros not far behind, just three games back.
The Cubs will face an old nemesis, the second-half Roy Oswalt. The Astros’ ace is throwing lights out again … after all it is post All-Star break. One of the reasons for Houston’s second half surge every year is Roy Oswalt. He owns a career-mark after the break of 68-20 with a 3.46 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP. Oswalt is coming off back-to-back stellar outings against the Dodgers and Cardinals.
The Cubs figure to get a boost tonight with the return of Ryan Dempster, but the Cubs right-hander will be on a pitch count limit … somewhere around 80-85. Dempster must be as efficient as he can early on. The Cubs’ pen is spent and will lose either Justin Berg or Jeff Stevens to make room for Dempster on the active roster. An early exit by Dempster could mean a long night for the Cubs.
While the offense must do their job against Roy Oswalt, it all begins with Ryan Dempster … and one win at a time. Ryan Dempster will make his first start today since July 2. Dempster mentioned during the pre-game show on Monday night that his arm feels great right now. He was embarrassed as to how he broke his toe and has received a lot of ribbing.
Dempster will likely be amped-up in the first couple of innings … and he must not allow the Astros to take advantage of all of his energy.
Ryan Dempster has been inconsistent this season, and some of that has been credited to his personal issues with his newborn child. After settling down from May 30 – June 22, he struggled in his last two outings before hitting the DL. Dempster lost on the South Side back on June 27 after giving up five runs on eight hits in five innings of work then bounced back against the Brewers. Dempster earned his first win since beating the Dodgers on May 30. He allowed four runs, three earned, on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings … and tied a season-high with nine strikeouts and only two walks.
The key to Dempster’s success, like most pitchers, is throwing strikes. When he has struggled this season it has been because he has walked more than three or more hitters.
When Ryan Dempster has issued three or more walks he is 1-4 on the year and his team is 2-6 in starts in which he issues three or more free passes. Dempster must find a rhythm early and with the limited pitch count must put together a quality start.
Dempster is 4-1 in seven starts at Wrigley this season with a 4.12 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP.
Tonight will be Dempster’s third start of the year against the Astros. Dempster has two no decisions and has allowed three runs on 13 hits in 13 innings with three walks and nine strikeouts (2.08 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP).
- Geoff Blum – 13-for-45 with a double and 5 walks
- Michael Bourn – 4-for-12 with a double and a walk
- Darin Erstad – 0-for-7
- Jeff Keppinger – 6-for-15 with a double
- Carlos Lee – 7-for-22 with 2 doubles, a home run and a walk
- Kaz Matsui – 2-for-13 with a triple and 2 walks
- Roy Oswalt – 1-for-10 with a walk
- Hunter Pence – 8-for-20 with a double and 2 home runs
- Ivan Rodriguez – 0-for-5 with a walk
- Miguel Tejada – 6-for-18 with a double and a walk
If there was any doubt that Roy Oswalt is still one of the best in the game, all one has to do is look at his last ten starts. Oswalt is 5-2 over his last ten (the Astros are 7-3) and he has given up more than one earned four times (23 earned runs on 58 hits in 73 innings with 16 walks and 57 strikeouts, 2.84 ERA and a 1.01 WHIP). In his last four starts, 2-0 with a 2.40 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP.
Oswalt is coming off an impressive no decision against the Cardinals. He allowed three runs on seven hits in seven innings with a walk and four strikeouts … and that was following a complete game victory over the Dodgers, in LA, on July 17 (one run on four hits without a walk and five strikeouts in nine innings).
Tonight will be Oswalt’s third start of the year against the Cubs. He is 0-1 in the first two with a 4.15 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP (six runs on 13 hits in 13 innings with a walk and nine strikeouts). Roy O received a no decision against the Cubs in Houston on May 16. The Cubs beat the Astros 5-4 and they managed three runs on six hits in six innings without a walk and seven strikeouts.
- Milton Bradley – 3-for-8 with a home run and 2 walks
- Ryan Dempster – 0-for-7
- Mike Fontenot – 4-for-14 with a double
- Kosuke Fukudome – 1-for-12
- Koyie Hill – 1-for-2 with a walk
- Micah Hoffpauir – 2-for-3 with a home run
- Reed Johnson – 1-for-4
- Derrek Lee – 16-for-55 with 4 doubles, 3 home runs and 5 walks
- Aramis Ramirez – 16-for-63 with 3 doubles and 4 home runs
- Alfonso Soriano – 9-for-39 with 3 home runs
- Ryan Theriot – 4-for-12 with a double and a walk
Let’s Talk Cubs Baseball….